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Mobile device wipes out bathroom embarassment

Keitai Otohime, a mobile device that plays the sound of running water to mask bodily sounds in the toilet, is selling out in Japan. There's also an app for that.

Are you shy about people hearing your, um, noises in a public restroom? Well, take heart because you're not alone. A mobile version of Otohime, a Japanese toilet function that reproduces the sound of running water to mask bodily sounds, is selling out.

The palm-size sound player comes in "forest" and "ribbon" designs. Takara Tomy Arts

Japanese loos are famous for their high-tech features. Electronic toilets with functions that play the sound of running water are common in public facilities like offices. Otohime means "sound princess," and it's exclusively found in ladies' restrooms.

Last year, toymaker Takara Tomy Arts teamed up with toilet giant Toto to create Keitai Otohime, a palm-size sound player gals can tote around in case they find themselves in a public lavatory lacking the Sound Princess.

The Keitai Otohime plays a loud sound of running water for two minutes with the push of a button. Push the button again, and the sound fades out. It runs on two AAA batteries, good for up to 600 flushes if used five times a day, according to the company.

Available in "forest" and "ribbon" designs, Keitai Otohime comes with a locking function so it doesn't accidentally start playing sounds in a crowded train or while you're on a date.

Takara Tomy is marketing the device as environmentally friendly, saying that without the Sound Princess function, Japanese women flush the toilet 2.5 times on average to mask bodily sounds. It says using Keitai Otohime can save about 4 gallons of water with each use.

Whether motivated by embarrassment or environmental concern, Japanese women are snapping Keitai Otohime up. Takara Tomy Arts has said the gadget sold out all 30,000 units soon after its launch last November.

While the company seems flushed with pride, it faces competition from downloadable Japanese iPhone apps that do the same thing as Keitai Otohime. One, developed by Polygon Magic, is called Eco Oto and sells for about $1.20.

And who says Japan is no longer innovative?

(Via Kyodo News)